At the end of Man Of Steel, when the credits began to roll, I realized that this is the film I have been waiting my whole life to see. Since the first teasers came out, I had a feeling that I was going to love it, but I did not expect that I would be walking into what would become my favorite film of all time. I’m not going to try to convince you that Man Of Steel is the best film ever made, because that would be an impossible task. I’m not speaking to this film’s merits on a cinematic level at all; personally, I loved it for all those reasons as well, but this is all just a matter of taste.
Let me start off by saying, and the editor of You Won Cannes can attest to this, I openly wept through a good hour and forty five minutes of this two hour and twenty three minute film.* Man Of Steel is, for me, the most beautiful film that I have ever seen. None of the emotional journey that we witness is contrived in a manner that many other films do in a spoon-fed, tug-at-your-heartstrings sort of way. Everything that is used to make you connect to Clark Kent on an emotional level is taken directly from the source material. Though, it is done much more poignantly than it had been done in all prior Superman films, cartoons, and spin-offs.
Without turning this into a therapy session, I want to just express what I took away from Man Of Steel. Not to set myself aside from everyone else in the world, because I doubt growing up is “easy” for anyone, but I was always an outcast. I was the weird kid that saw others bond and form friendships over using me as their target of ridicule. Again, I’m not claiming that I had it harder than anyone else, just that this was my experience. Living life as an outsider, looking in at the “normal” kids, and wishing that I could just fit in. I can assure you that I am a fairly well adjusted person now, and feel like all of these experiences forced me into becoming a person that I am now proud to be. Man Of Steel really focuses on that aspect of Clark Kent, and the mental temperament it requires to become the person that you were always meant to be.
Man of Steel follows the origin of Superman, including what it was like for him growing up on Earth with his adopted parents. The relationship between Jonathan and Clark Kent is basically the complete opposite of what I know of a father/son relationship on a personal level. Don’t worry, I am not going to subject you to me working through my own father issues here. So much of the story that involves this relationship affected me very deeply. It was done so well, that upon driving home from Man Of Steel, and discussing this particular aspect of the film, again with the You Won Cannes editor, I had to pull over because I started crying uncontrollably.** My father and I don’t speak anymore, and much of what I never got and never will get from a father was seeded so brilliantly into the film. Not to sound too cheesy here, but Jonathan Kent is basically the father I always wanted.
On the other side of that, there is also the relationship between Clark Kent (Kal-El) and his birth father, Jor-El, who at the beginning of the film, sends his newborn son to a faraway world in order to save his life. Though he is far less influential on the development of his son, I found Jor-El’s aspirations for his son, who he never even gets to see grow up, completely fascinating and compelling. Maybe this too hits me a little harder right now because I am soon going to be a father, and due to my having a heart condition, I am terrified that I will not get to see my son grow up. Incidentally, I am naming my son Calvin Elwood Corkery, which is a subtle reference to Superman. I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but the logic was shortening both names (Cal El) which would sound like Kal-El. This should tell you how passionate I am about the Superman character and mythology.
Aside from all the personal things that I took away from Man Of Steel, I also thought it was a solid adaptation of a comic book film. General Zod was a fantastic villain, who you really identify with on a lot of levels, at least to the point where you understand his motivations more so than agree with them. He is on a mission to preserve what is left of his race, of which he, his crew, and Kal-El are the only remaining members. Zod needs Kal-El to complete his mission, and doesn’t care if this results in the destruction of the human race.
Man Of Steel took chances that other films, even those that had a solid foundation of good films leading up to them, did not. Not to digress too much here, and without giving any spoilers, I felt The Dark Knight Rises had the potential to be one of the best films of the last decade, but fell short for playing it too safe. Man Of Steel’s conclusion has a fantastic showdown between Superman and General Zod, which climaxes with an intense post-action reaction realization of consequences, as a result of this film being brave enough to have its hero defy the expectations of his character.
Man Of Steel delivers on so many levels that I don’t see how anybody, short of a person who just doesn’t care about the subject matter, could not enjoy it. Even at that, forgetting for a moment that Man Of Steel is a comic book movie, it’s still a great film with brilliant moments of tenderness and insights on humanity through the eyes of an outsider.
*Editor’s Note: He did.
**Editor’s Note: He did this also.